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Friday, 30 June 2017


A pro-Democracy and Non-Governmental organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA  (HURIWA) has faulted the claim of Senior Media Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari that the Presidential jet was packed in London to await President Buhari's discharge from hospital and that it was a global standard.   
The Rights group said there was no global best practice that prescribes that a nation's ruling political elite can ruin the domestic health sector to necessitate a seemingly endless medical tourism by members of the political class on public expenses including President Muhammadu Buhari who has spent cumulatively over 100 working days convalescing in a British medical facility at serious financial and logistical costs to the ever shrinking public treasury of Nigeria. 
In a media statement endorsed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said in over a century there hasn't been any antecedent whereby a leader of a sovereign state would be flown to a faraway sovereign nation in another continent and such an ailing President spends incredible amount of time receiving medical help whilst  the Presidential jet maintained at public costs would be parked at a foreign aviation facility to accumulate huge bills which the national fund would be deployed to offset.
HURIWA therefore challenged the Spokesman of President Muhammadu Buhari Malam. Garba Shehu to show Nigerians any evidence of this kind of prolonged medical sojourn abroad by any political leader of a country to justify his claim that the practice was a global standard. 
 "HURIWA thinks we should be ashamed of ourselves that we can't get the best of medical facilities in Nigeria due to prolonged period of mismanagement and organised robbery of public assets by successive and current politicians instead of attempting to tie a wool of confusion and half baked media propaganda on gullible citizens by rationalising over a practice that has no global best practice or historical antecedents ".
The group said even the Head of State of Vatican city Pope Francis  who administers a Sovereign entity and even the Prime minister of United kingdom Theresa May patronize commercial airlines which are cheaper and therefore wonders why a poor and foreign aids dependent nation like Nigeria can embark on such a ruthless spending free of frittering millions of foreign currencies to sponsor medical tourism of the President and to accumulate huge expenses in parking the Presidential jet idly for many days and even maintain the accommodation of a retinue of pilot and flight attendants attached to the Presidential fleets.
The group reminded the Presidential spokesman that David Cameron as Premier of Britain was photographed taking a ride on a public underground train.
HURIWA said the Presidential jet if parked in Abuja will costs nothing and that it will take few hours to be flown to the United Kingdom any moment the ailing President recuperates and wishes to be flown home. 
"The other time,  did the Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbanjo not fly into Italy for the G7 global summit on migration of Africans and jetted back home the same day? Why waste scarce public fund to park the jet belonging to Nigeria in London to await the President as if public property has now become a family property?This is corruption of the severest type when public property is used recklessly just like a privately owned asset by the occupant of the office of Nigeria President."
"We regret to state that there is no such antecedent whereby a national leader who embodies the national  sovereignty of his country would patronize a foreign Medicare at grave costs to public treasury and to therefore seek to justify or rationalize the callous extravagance of parking the Presidential jet of Nigeria in a foreign territory for as long as one hundred days is absolutely unacceptable and must be halted. Let the Presidential jet be retrieved and return to the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja Nigeria until such a time the President is prepared to return to work when hopefully he would have regained his health".
HURIWA recalled that the Presidency says it is constrained to decry criticisms, mostly on social media, on the retention in London of Nigeria’s Presidential Aircraft, NAF 001 as “mostly informed by lack of understanding of protocol around foreign trips by Heads of State all over the world”.
The spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, said in a statement on Thursday that for reasons of protocol, national security, diplomacy and prestige, “no world leader who travels abroad and is left without plans for immediate return or possible evacuation”.
The statement said from an operational point of view, Nigeria’s Armed Forces as represented by the Nigeria Air Force are not to abandon their Commander-In-Chief in whichever circumstance he is. “This is a standard operating procedure”.
HURIWA however disagree with this official line of arguments because according to the Rights Group it makes more economic sense to park the Presidential jet here in Abuja the political soul of Nigeria and even in terms of national security the jet as a public property is better parked in Nigeria in this unprecedented case whereby the President is spending over one hundred days overseas caring for his failing health. 

Footballers as Patriots By Emmnauel Onwubiko & Queen Onwughalu

As we struggle to untie the knots of discord and disunity in Nigeria, one group of Nigerians that we ought to look upon as models are the footballers from Nigeria plying their trade in different European leagues.
Nigeria being one of the best rated soccer playing nations in the estimation of the global football governing body (FIFA), the nation has successfully produced some of the finest players who have made their names in the English, Spanish, Italian and German leagues respectively over the past three decades.
Some of these footballing legends include the late Coach Stephen Keshi, Daniel Omokachi, Kanu Nwankwo, Austine Okocha and Emmanuel Amuneke amongst a plethora of other glittering stars.
Those great players who still make impacts till date are Mikel john Obi, Ahmed Musa, Ogenyi Onazi, Victor Moses and Victor Chinedu Anachebe, who recently moved over to the lucrative Chinese league. 
Kelechi Iheanacho of Manchester city football club is also another upwardly mobile football star with a heart of gold but who truly needs encouragement from within Nigeria to be able to invest some of his God given wealth back to his immediate environment in Owerri Imo state from whence he grew up into the big league. 
Some of those great soccer talents who gave their very best to the service of fatherland such as Kanu Nwankwo, Austine Okocha, and Sampson Siasia amongst a few others have in one way or the other established charitable institutions that specifically targets the advancements of human enterprise and protection of human rights in Nigeria. Most of them have substantial financial investments in the setting up and running of successful football academies.  
Nigerian footballers are doing as much as other African players such as Didier Drogba a legend of Chelsea fc of England who reportedly built and donated over N2 billion Naira worth of health facilities in his homeland of Cote de voir for the services of indigent patients. 
Take for instance the case of Nwankwo Kanu who in his playing days was diagnosed and treated of a hole in his heart. 
This man made his marks in major European leagues with a triumphant exit from the top most teams in England and has since showed the ever flowing milk of human kindness in him by his establishment of the Kanu Nwankwo Hearts Foundation which successfully assisted hundreds of children of indigent families with holes in their hearts.
The Kanu Nwankwo Hearts’ Foundation for nearly two decades took care of the health condition of hundreds -of -thousands of children most of whom underwent surgical procedures in India.
On his own, Nigeria’s best known midfield Maestro Mr. Austine Okocha known with his popular sobriquet as Jay Jay Okocha has since retiring from active football dedicated ,and devoted his times and resources towards the mentorship of Nigerian African Youth.
In his voluntary capacity as FIFA goodwill Ambassador Mr. Jay Jay Okocha has provided inspirations to hundreds -of -thousands of Nigerians/African Youths who have eventually discovered their innate talents in the game of football. 
Some of these youngsters have gone ahead to make their individual impacts in their own right.
Sampson Siasia, Stephen Keshi, and Daniel Omokachi have all provided one national sacrifice or the other towards the advancement of soccer. 
John Obi Mikel single handedly funded the accommodations of his yeam mates when they represented Nigeria at the last Olympics in Brazil when the sports officials brought global opprobrium to Nigeria through sheer crass incompetence. 
In the most recent history, contemporary footballers in the mold of Ahmed Musa,John Obi Mikel,Victor Anachebe have individually invested substantially to the discovery of young Nigerian talents irrespective of their ethno-religious affiliations.
The news broke last week that Leicester City and Super Eagles star Ahmed Musa has opened his multi-million Naira sports and fitness center in Kano and was also bestowed with a special title at the occasion. The center is conservatively valued at several millions of Naira.
The Sports centre has been commissioned with pomp and pageantry.  The list of who is who in football administration graced the glamourous event. 
Super Eagles chief coach Salisu Yusuf, Eagles defender Shehu Abdullahi, representative of the Emir of Kano as well as several Kano Pillars stars past and present were at the colorful event.
The former Eagles captain was later conferred with the title of Jagaban Matasan Arewa (which in Hausa means leader of the northern youths) by the Association of Northern Nigerian Students.
The center, which is at Hotoro GRA Kwanar Sabo by CBN Quarters, is said to provide jobs for as many as 50 people.
Significantly, of all the recent stories around the issue of magnanimous and humanitarian activities of footballers, that of Ahmed Musa seems to be attracting good publicity for Nigerians. 
Before the actual commissioning ceremony the story was aired by global media networks especially the new media. 
A reputable website reports as follows: “ Leicester city’s Ahmed Musa has announced that he will open a sports fitness center in Kano on June 5th.The Nigerian international disclosed that the multipurpose sports building that is located in his home state, Kano will be named after him as Ahmed Musa sports and fitness center”.
Another popular online sports newspaper rated the Ahmed Musa sports center to have cost the player a princely sum of N500 million.
I had spoken about the legendary Kanu Nwankwo Heart Foundation which was established to help underprivileged African children and young adults, living with different heart ailments in Nigeria and other African countries respectively, to obtain the Cardiac surgery operation needed.
This effort would have cost Kanu Nwakwo over N1 Billion conservatively over the many years of its existence. 
On the individual levels, footballers see themselves as members of one family and hardly attach any importance to differences in the religious or ethnic affiliations of each other. 
A footballer from Kano like Ahmed Musa is so urbane to an extent that he recently married his ‘love bird’ from Calabar in Cross River State. 
Players also help each other in times of transitions from being local player to  international stardom.
The story of John Ogu and Ogenyi Onazi is particularly worth emulating. 
Super Eagles forward John Ogu has revealed how stand-in-captain of the senior national team Ogenyi Onazi was instrumental to his fledgling career.
 He made the revelation on the occasion of the latter’s first wedding anniversary. Daily Trust carried this story today. 
Ogu who plies his trade as a Central Midfielder for Israeli Premier League side Hapoel Be’er Sheva, said Onazi helped him purchase a flight ticket to stay with him in Rome years ago when he was with Lazio as he searched for a club in Europe.
“Many never knew Ogenyi Onazi bought me a ticket to Rome to stay with him until I get a club. I Appreciate you bro always .God bless you.” The player who got his 9th invite to Gernot Rohr’s team against South Africa last month wrote on twitter.
The player went on to add that the plan was to be able to get a trial with Onazi’s club at the time SS Lazio but remains happy with the way things turned out as he is now very happy to be in Israel which he calls his ‘second home’ in a series of tweets.
Ogu according to the news report was first called up to the Nigerian national side for a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier under late Stephen Keshi. 
He reportedly debuted against Kenya in a 1-1 draw, where he was used as a substitute to replace an injured Victor Moses.
And on 31 May 2013, he scored his first international goal against Mexico in a friendly game which took place at the Reliant Stadium in Houston.
From all these good examples, it then shocks every discerning observer that the Nigerian government has so far failed to galvanize the abundance of harmony that exists amongst footballers to  motivate the restive youth of Nigeria from across board on the need for national unity.
The Federal ministry of youth and sports must be recognized and a patriotic Nigerian appointed to run this strategic sector so the person can work out strategies for utilizing these beautiful attributes of footballers and sports men and women to promote national unity.
Let the Acting President task the National Orientation Agency to partner actively with the Nigerian Football Federation and a data base of our active and retired players be built so they can be relied upon to embark on media sensitization of Nigerians on the essence of national harmony and peace. Media moguls such as the owners of the successful African Independent Television; John Momoh of Channels tv; Publishers of such nationally respected newdpapers like The Guardian; Thisday; Punch; Vanguard and Tribune, not forgetting the Daily Trust and Daily Sun should be invited to donate useful and prime time/space in their media outlets so players can be interviewed on weekly basis on how to promote national peace, unity progress in Nigeria.  These media owners have done many constructive and patriotic tasks many times over and so they are readily available for consultation by the Nigerian government. 
This task has become imperative given that those actors threatening the unity of Nigeria from all political zones are young persons.
For instance, all the agitations threatening to tear apart Nigeria are orchestrated by young persons. 
So let the government find pragmatic ways of deploying the talents and resources of our young sports players towards achieving national peace. This is a task that must be done.
We recall that Sports are not just about winning. Sports can be a driver of social change. The late Nelson Mandela once said that “sport has the power to change the world.” He witnessed this when his support of the mostly white South African national team in the 1995 Rugby World Cup had a striking effect on the country recovering from apartheid. “It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does,” Mandela said. “Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”(Apologies

This unique University also noted on their websites that global events like the Olympics display the power of sports and how they can bridge language and cultural barriers. 
Across the world, they stated, sports leagues, teams and their superstars have recognized that sports and social good go hand in hand. Together, they’re doing their best to make the world a better place. The University listed out some social good of sports sich as; Promoting Health and Wellness and stressed clearly, that participating in sports promotes health and wellness. Athletes can grow in several ways.
 Socially, Athletes develop key social skills that can help them throughout life. They can learn teamwork and understand the importance of personal responsibility. Time management and organizational skills are also related to participation in sports.
Emotionally, Sports can boost self-confidence and decrease stress. Those who participate in sports are less likely to drop out of school or get into legal trouble.
 Physically, Of course, athletes improve their physical fitness, strength and coordination. Encouraging long-term healthy living habits is one of the most important benefits of playing sports. Participants can understand just how critical it is to maintain well-being through physical activity.
 Importantly, on making an Impact sports organizations have an obligation to their communities. Professional sports make much of their profit via community support. This means it’s in the best interest of teams and players to support those who have supported them. Combining sports and social good can be a way to make a profound impact.
 From we learnt specifically thus: "There are countless sports-related charities tackling larger problems. This is especially prominent among professional sports leagues and teams".
Nigeria must make hay whilst the sun shines. 
*Emmanuel Onwubiko & Queen Onwughalu wrote in from HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and can be reached on 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Audacity of 'Foreign' herdsmen By Emmanuel Onwubiko

It started like a crude joke which later became a regular rhetoric amongst some officials of the current government. 
What is that crude joke? You may want to apprehend. 
This joke so crude as it is and so puerile as it sounds has gained notorious currency amongst men of political power in Nigeria and it confounds the wise why such abnormality in reasoning has assumed a regular trend.
This joke is the perception and claims in official quarters that substantial percentage of the armed Fulani herdsmen on rampage in most parts of Nigeria are foreign nationals from Niger, Chad and even Cameroon.
The setting for this non-plausible and indeed outlandish affirmations was built when a certain Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service and his counterpart in the Nigerian Customs asserted that there are limitless numbers of entry points in our international borders especially from the Northern Nigerian flanks from which all sorts of smuggling activities take place undetected. 
Some of these illegal trafficking of aliens are most times accompanied by the flooding of the Nigerian space with illicit small arms and weapons. 
This kind of argument as adduced by these unpatriotic customs and immigration officials laid the groundwork for some politicians to cling on to it to blame the incessant attacks of farming communities by armed Fulani herdsmen to the activities of infiltrators who migrate from neighboring countries under the auspices of the revised travel Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Sadly,  this time around these herdsmen are armed to their teeth with sophisticated state of the art weapons which are deployed to sack indigenous owners of farm lands to enable the occupation by these marauding attackers. 
The argument that foreign herdsmen are the perpetrators of these violent attacks has gained traction within the circles of some governors belonging to the ruling national party of All Progressives Congress. 
The President,  Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Major General in the Army, is a Fulani by origin from Daura in Katsina state which is a doorway from Niger Republic. 
Amongst the ranks of these politicians making this inflammable and non-rational claims are the Kaduna and Edo states governors and some federal cabinet members have also caught the political bug. 
Relatedly, the Kaduna state governor Malam Nassir El-Ruffai was reported as telling bewildered journalists that the majority of the armed Fulani herdsmen who unleashed devastating violence reminiscent of a coordinated pogrom in Southern Kaduna state were mostly from the neighboring nations to Northern section of Nigeria.
As soon as this pathetic tale from the Kaduna state governor hit the newsstand, Agriculture minister of state and his boss- the minister of Agriculture –the Idoma, Benue state born Mr. Audu Ogbe reechoed this same tenor of acclamation that the killer Fulani herdsmen are indeed foreigners. 
Mind you, one local government area of Benue state were destroyed by armed Fulani terrorists. Tivland has virtually become battle fields and killing fields no thanks to the dare devil activities of armed killer Fulani herdsmen. 
Audu Ogbe is from the same senatorial zone as those Idoma farmers sacked from their ancestral homeland by the invading armed Fulani terrorists. 
Recall also that Benue state government it must be stated has taken the bull by the horn by legislating against open grazing of cattle.  
Certain persons masquerading as national officials of Nigerian cattle rearers roared in anger against the lawfully passed anti- open grazing law in Benue state thus indirectly faulting the weird claim that foreign herdsmen were the violent species unleashing ceaseless attacks. 
This revelation hasn't deterred the spread of this hypothesis that foreigners are the killer herdsmen. 
Of recent, the Edo state governor Mr. Godwin Obaseki has just enlisted into the camp of those politicians selling the dummy that foreign armed Fulani herdsmen are behind the violence that have characterized the activities of herdsmen all around Nigeria.
I will return  to debate the logicality or otherwise of the Nigerian government at every level  becoming helpless in the face of massive invasions of the so called armed Fulani herdsmen from across the borders of Northern Nigeria, killing and maiming the citizenry undeterred.
But First, let’s look at the claim as made by the Kaduna state governor and then we can put it side -by -side with the reported affirmation made by Kaduna state chairman of cattle rearers also known as Miyetti Allah association.
Whereas the Fulani – born Kaduna state governor moved the blame for the genocide of Christians in Southern Kaduna to foreign armed Fulani herdsmen, the leader of the Fulani herdsmen operating in Kaduna state was reported as stating that the killings in Southern Kaduna are reprisal for the killing of a Fulani Chief somewhere in Godogodo near Gidan Waya of Jama’a Local government area of Kaduna state. 
Who is fooling who?
The Kaduna state governor went a step further by reportedly claiming that he had to pay the Fulani herdsmen to stop further attacks of Southern Kaduna Christian communities. 
Farcically, even the national leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association headed by Alhaji A.B Mahmoud visited the devastated Sothern Kaduna communities in what is seen as face saving propaganda for the Kaduna state government.
Before we proceed to the larger issue of the Nation-wide rampage of armed Fulani herdsmen, let us conclude the first stage of our syllogism by affirming that the rule of law has collapsed in Kaduna state.
 This is because of the clear fact that even the governor who had subscribed to a binding oath to defend the Nigerian constitution was reported as admitting to have paid  Fulani herdsmen to stop attacks of Southern Kaduna communities. 
I therefore ask, which  sabotage and  travesty of justice can be higher than this? 
Were it not for the corruption-ridden and crime infested section 308 (1) of the constitution on immunity that covers ElRuffai for four year tenure, it would have been fair and right to arrest and prosecute him for aiding and abetting this lawless violence.
Prove me wrong if you can!
Apart from the failure of the Kaduna state government to bring suspected perpetrators of the violence in Southern Kaduna to justice, the Nassir El-Ruffai administration dramatically decided to punish the victimized people of Southern Kaduna by shutting down all the public administered educational institutions. 
This myopic policy is callous, wicked, unwarranted and unconstitutional. 
All public schools in Southern Kaduna should be re-opened immediately. 
Now let us return to the empty argument of the likes of ministers of Agriculture and the Edo state governor Mr. Godwin Obaseki that the armed Fulani killing our farmers in their ancestral lands are mostly from the neighboring nations.
This submission is vexations; tendentious, unsubstantiated, lazy, tepid and irrational because it is only in a failed state would government officials simply give up the protection of their people on such superficial claims whose veracity is at best remote and laughable. 
What did Article 59 of the revised treaty of 1993 of the Economic community of West African States (ECOWAS) say on the provisions for migration?
These provisions stated as follows:  Citizens of the community shall have the right of entry, residence and establishment and Member States undertake to recognize these rights of Community citizens in their territories in accordance with the provisions of the Protocols relating thereto.
It says that Member States undertake to adopt all appropriate measures to ensure that Community citizens enjoy fully the rights referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article, and Member ' States undertake to adopt, at national level, all measures necessary for the effective implementation of this article.
Assuming that the ECOWAS treaty on free passage of persons permits the movements of herdsmen from across the borders into our country, are we then saying that Nigeria has abandon its sovereign rights to national security? 
Not at all.
Indeed, the essence of the sovereignty of any political entity is the capacity to defend the geopolitics from external aggression by such armed hoodlums in the guise of Fulani herdsmen.
In his book; "Issues in the mobilization of public support for military operations in Nigeria", Major General Chris Olukolade said the strategic purpose of the military is the deployment of soldiers  to deter external aggression, and respond to such aggression whenever it occurs, with the goal of subduing the aggressor. 
General Olukolade who quoted from several global military authorities in his scholarly book isn't too far from what the Nigerian law says about the legal functions of the Nigerian armed forces. 
Section 1(1) of the constitution of the Federation Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) provides that: “This constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Section 14 (2) (b) clearly provides that: “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”.
If we move a little inside the constitution to view those provisions that enable the establishment of military institutions, we will see clearly that defending the nation’s territorial integrity is at the core of such agencies.
Section 217 (1) (2) from subsection (a) to (d) state as follows: “ (1) There shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an Army, a Navy, an Air force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly”.
(2) The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of; (a) Defending Nigeria from external aggression;(b) Maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea or air; © suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and (d) Performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.
So if it is right to say that the Nigerian government has indeed failed to defend Nigeria and Nigerians from these incessant attacks of farming communities which have been attributed to the activities of mostly foreign born Fulani herdsmen, it therefore goes to show that this government has failed in its primary duty to the citizens. 
We can then state without equivocation that from the Kaduna and Edo state governments up to the Federal Ministries of Agriculture, there is a subsisting indictment of the men and officials of the armed Forces and police since they have failed to bring these foreign armed Fulani herdsmen to justice for the killing of thousands of Nigerians and for unleashing unquantifiable devastation to the farmlands all across Nigeria.
Why have military and policing agencies allowed these herdsmen to continue on their nation-wide episodes of devastations, killings and destruction of farmlands?
Nigeria is littered with sad tales of the sudden takeover of farmlands of private individuals and state government institutions by Fulani herdsmen. 
Even the Nigerian liquefied National Gas Company in Port Harcourt Rivers State has reportedly been overrun by Fulani herdsmen. 
Only on Wednesday the Rector of the Imo state Polytechnics in Owerri along the PortHarcourt express Rev. Fr. Wenceslaus Madu (CMF) bitterly lamented that Fulani herdsmen have destroyed the crops in the farm owned by the school which the management was able to establish with the technical assistance of some international agricultural research institutes. 
The Imo state government has also failed to erect formidable fence to shield the school from such unwarranted invasions.
 The Federal University of Agriculture Umudike Umuahia in Abia state was recently invaded by Fulani herdsmen even as a primary school in Edo state was taken over by cows and the pupils were displaced. 
Few days later some Fulani herdsmen raped and beheaded a woman near Benin. And all that the governor can say is to blame foreign killer herdsmen.  
This is shameful and animalistic. 
In Delta state the attacks of Fulani herdsmen who are now worse than terrorists are becoming regular even as a police deputy commissioner in Delta was reportedly killed by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen.  
The Nigerian Government must enforce the law to stop these attacks and invasions of farmlands. There has to be a policy framework and an effective and efficacious  legal regime to prevent these sorts of violence against the citizens. 
Let the states make law to only allow advance and modern forms of rearing of cattle in ranches. 
The people must resist any subterranean plot by some persons to force Nigerian families to give up their lands for use as grazing fields.
 Any governor that decides to set up grazing field without the popular acceptance and agreements of the majority of their people through transparently conducted public hearings must be impeached. 
We must take back our Country and check this audacious invasion of our ancestral communities by these so-called foreign herdsmen who are bent on  exterminating our species from the face of the earth.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA ) and blogs@ www.emmanuelonwubiko.

'Better de-horned than dead' – zoo chops rhino horns to foil poachers

A Czech zoo has started to remove the horns from its 21 rhinos as a precaution after the recent killing of a rhinoceros at a wildlife park in France by assailants who stole the animal’s horn.
With rhino horns considered a wonder cure in Asia – for everything from cancer, colds and fevers to high blood pressure, hangovers, impotence and other ailments – poachers have killed thousands of the animals in Africa and elsewhere.
It is estimated that 6,000 individuals from the world’s five species of rhinos have been killed in the last nine years, leaving a global wild population of about 30,000.
But the attack at the Thoiry zoo near Paris earlier this month was a warning sign for zookeepers around the globe that poaching could be spreading beyond the killing fields of Africa and Asia.
The Dvur Kralove zoo, 70 miles north-east of Prague, has four southern white rhinos and 17 black ones, the largest group of its kind in Europe.
Director PÅ™emysl Rabas said on Tuesday that it was a tough decision to saw off the animals’ horns.
But, he added: “The risk that the rhinos currently face, not only in the wild but even in zoos, is too high.
“The safety of the animals is our first concern. A de-horned rhino is definitely a better option than a dead rhino.”
The zoo said the procedure is painless for the animals and has been used before for safety reasons, especially when the rhinos are moved to other locations. The severed horns will gradually grow back again.
“There is no live tissue [in the horn],” said Jan Stejskal, director of communications and international projects at Dvur Kralove.
“It’s just compact matter, similar to nails or to hair. If you cut it, it’s like cutting your hair or your nails. So it has no impact on the life of the animal.”
Pamir, a 10-year-old male rhino, was the first to have his horn cut off on Monday.
 “Pamir was anaesthetised. The intervention took less than one hour and it was performed without any complications,” said Jiri Hruby, a rhino curator.
The horns will be initially stored in a “safe place” outside the park.
The Czech zoo is not the only one to take such measures. It said its experts helped the Bandia reserve in Senegal do the same with their rhinos last week and says the Pairi Daiza zoo in Belgium plans to follow suit.

From the desk of:Animal Rights Association of Nigeria-07040303030